Daily Archives: April 14, 2008

What does Gaudium et Spes say about NFP?

It is interesting how Catholics play with terminology. Take “extra-ordinary”. If the Church says, “extra-ordinary ministers of Holy Communion,” one group will say, “See? Extra-ordinary means ‘out of the ordinary,’ and thus, rare,” while the others basically ignore the term or try to say it means “special.” Meanwhile, if Pope Benedict says, “Extra-ordinary usage of the Roman Rite,” that first group suddenly says, “see? Special!” while the second group says, “See? It’s supposed to be extremely rare!” Then, when the Church talks about “extra-ordinary” demonic activity, such as oppression and spiritual attack (whereas “ordinary” demonic activity is temptation, which occurs 60 seconds per minute, 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours per day), people of both stripes will say, “See? It’s extremely rare.”

Now, the same goes on with the word “grave.” Post-Vatican II documents tend to speak of “grave sin,” for example. “Grave sin” is just a synonym for “mortal sin,” but “liberal” Catholics will try to say that “grave sin” is “not quite mortal.” Meanwhile, when the Church says “grave” matter for NFP, many people seem to think “grave” means “serious, but not necessarily too serious.”

Ultimately, we’re not supposed to be judging other people’s motives, which is fine. The problem is that’s exactly what people like Greg Popcak do: they tell you that, to have a “perfect family,” you *have* to “space” your children. They immediately come down hard on anyone they label “providentialist” or anyone who expresses trouble practicing NFP.

The problem that some of us have with NFP is that the grave matter should be “grave” enough to warrant the kind of self-sacrifice involved in NFP (self-sacrifice that some people apparently think is “no big deal”).

Even the NFP instructors say, “If you really can’t wait, maybe God’s calling you to have a baby.”
The hardest part of NFP is not the abstinence, but the stress and the scruples. It gets so frustrating. If you feel it’s grave enough to abstain, you try hard, but it’s hard to abstain. So you beat yourself up for not abstaining.
Then, if you decide “go ahead and have kids,” then there’s that stress of being told, by people like Popcak, that you’re not “responsible,” and that you’re bad for that reason.

You’re darned if you do, darned if you don’t.